NTU researcher Li Liang holding the new antibody, with NTU Assoc Prof Andrew Tan and NUS Assoc Prof Vincent Chow. CREDIT: NTU Singapore

Singapore Researchers Develop New Antibody to Flu, Pneumonia

Scientists from NTU Singapore have developed an antibody which boosts the survival chances for patients suffering from influenza and pneumonia and now working on developing a diagnostic kit to accurately track the recovery.

The patent-pending antibody has been given in license to two biotech multi-national corporations, Abcam based in the United Kingdom and Adipogen International based in the United States.

This new antibody was developed by NTU Singapore’s Associate Professor Andrew Tan, who led an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Singapore.

“When the antibody we developed was given to mice suffering from pneumonia and influenza which had high levels of ANGPTL4, these mice recovered much faster than the other mice which didn’t receive the antibodies,” Assoc Prof Tan said.

“We know that ANGPTL4 usually helps to regulate blood vessel leakiness. But this is the first time we have shown that by blocking this protein, we are able to control the natural response of inflammation, which in turn reduces the damage that inflammation does to the lungs,” he added.

The kit will help doctors diagnose the severity of pneumonia and the efficacy of the prescribed treatment by detecting the concentration of ANGPTL4, which is present in samples taken from patients.

Assoc Prof Vincent Chow from NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, a co-author of the paper, said, “This study reveals the potential diagnostic and therapeutic value of targeting ANGPTL4 in pneumonia, and warrants further detailed clinical investigation in pneumonia patients.”

In history, influenza epidemic in 1918 called the Spanish Flu killed over 50 million people or the 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak too killed people in thousands.

The World Health Organisation has repeatedly published estimates that influenza results in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness worldwide each year, with about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths annually.

The finding has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Reports.


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